January 26, 2021
Islamic Republic of Iran authorities in January launched a new crackdown against athletic friends of the wrestling champion Navid Afkari who was hanged in September because he protested against the growing political and economic corruption of Iran’s clerical regime.
Sardar Pashaei, the renowned Greco-Roman Iranian wrestler world champion, confirmed on Saturday to The Jerusalem Post that “the regime just took the wrestling club of Navid’s coach and cut his insurance and salary. They gave his wrestling club to Omid Norouzi, the head of Sepahe Fajr Basij. They also changed the wrestling club’s name from Jahan Pahlevan Takhti to Omid Norouzi Academy.”
The Basij militia is controlled by Iran’s regime and deployed to suppress pro-democracy and anti-corruption demonstrations in Iran. The Basij frequently murder peaceful protestors and are known for their loyalty to the regime’s radical Islamic ideology.
Pashaei noted that “Navid Afkari became Omid Nowruzi’s training opponent for many years and played a small role in his friend’s success and he became an Olympic champion.”
Omid Norouzi won the gold medal in the Greco-Roman competition in the 60 kg weight class category at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Social media footage on Twitter Saturday showed Iranians, including family members, commemorating Afkari at his grave in the village of Sangar. Twitter accounts reported that the authorities harassed visitors to Afkari’s grave. The Post could not independently confirm the reports.
A new video of Afkari on a treadmill was posted on social media. The Iranian-Norwegian journalist Mina Bai tweeted: “Innocent champion wrestler Navid Afkari executed on fabricated charges and confessing under torture. Demonstrating against regime/economical difficulties. Video Via @Dariush_Zand.”
Innocent champion wrestler @NavidAfkari executed on fabricated charges and confessing under torture. Demonstrating against regime/economical difficulties.
Video Via @Dariush_Zandpic.twitter.com/bMJuMjPb5l
— mina bai (@bai_mina) January 21, 2021Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib, were imprisoned for their role in the 2018 protest against the regime. Vahid received a sentence of 54 years and six months, and Habib 27 years and three months, as well as 74 lashes each.
Pashaei, who lives in the US and coached Iran’s elite Greco-Roman wrestling team, is a supporter of the United for Navid campaign. United for Navid is comprised of Iranian athletes who want the International Olympics Committee to ban Iran’s regime from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Elite Iranian athletes argue in a series of videos on the website of United for Navid that the regime deserves to be banned because of its practices gender apartheid and its gross human rights abuses against athletes.
Pashaei tweeted in December: “The @Olympicssays it respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic. We Iranian athletes say loudly that the IOC should not respect a member country that executes athletes just for expressing their opinion.”
The @Olympics says it respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic. We Iranian athletes say loudly that the IOC should not respect a member country that executes athletes just for expressing their opinion.#NavidAfkari#United4Navidpic.twitter.com/iLuIRMyg0D
— Sardar Pashaei (@sardar_pashaei) December 16, 2020
Rob Koehler, director general of Global Athlete, an international advocacy group for Olympic athletes, on Friday tweeted “@Olympics should have suspended the Iran National Olympic Committee when the Iranian Government took the life of an innocent human, an athlete, and a wrestler #NavidAfkari. No action thus far and athlete abuse continues.”
The Jerusalem Post